liberace is dead


The year is 1979. Stage lighting shouts disco Xs across the stage, and everything is in soft focus. He’s really got us now….but then — hold on, isn’t that…? Yes, it is. Twenty-three seconds into the Chopin, Liberace has switched into a flowery version of “My Funny Valentine.” His fingers flutter across the keys—who knew this song had so many notes? We are back into Chopin again — “Nocturne in E flat, Op. 9,” but it doesn’t matter that we don’t know the name; we’ve all swooned to this melody before. The camera now wears a big pink filter in the shape of a heart with Liberace playing at the center. He’s moving at top speed, slipping from one Chopin melody to another, all the while filling the cracks with Funny Valentine. It’s impossible to follow, and it’s not worth trying. You just have to allow yourself to be swept away. With a flourish (always), Liberace finishes the medley. He turns to the audience and bows. He rises from the bench, stands before us, bows again, then once more, raising his arms, smiling his gentle smile. This is not just romance I’m giving you, the smile says. This is love. I love you.

more from Stefany Anne Golberg at The Smart Set here.